Life Science
Incubator Leiden

dHealthIQ closes investment to validate their AI platform for elderly care and rehabilitation

LEH (Libertatis Ergo Holding B.V) and Interhealth Holding B.V. invest a total of €500k in the Leiden-based startup dHealthIQ B.V. dHealthIQ supplies analytical software to elderly care institutions (in dutch: VVT).

dHealthIQ is on a mission to improve care for the elderly and physical rehabilitation by connecting nurses, health care professionals and family members to their state-of-the-art artificial intelligence platform.

dHealthIQ’s software uses data from various wearables, medical devices and sensors that help elderly persons to live at home safer and longer. The AI-based analytics includes frailty detection and automatic recognition of wellbeing and behaviour. These insights help care professionals provide a personalised care plan for patients, improves efficiency and keeps family members connected and informed.

The investment will be used for the further development of the frailty algorithm, to carry out pilots in various elderly care institutions, and to expand the team.

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Mindaugas Leonavicius, dHealthIQ:We already have an extremely strong academic foundation due to our close relationship with Leiden University, Kaunas Technology University, Lithuanian LiveScience university. However, this investment is essential for the commercialization of our technology.”

Maarten Zwitserloot, dHealthIQ:The elderly care faces a major challenge, but fortunately our government is working hard on structural solutions. Thanks to this investment, we can also support elders to remain living at home.”

Rob Mayfield (Libertatis Ergo Holding B.V):We are excited to be supporting dHealthIQ and their ambitions to improve elderly care as well as rehabilitation in the Netherlands.”

Stéfan Ellenbroek (unlock_):I’m always very proud when one of the unlock_flock succeeds in attracting money. For dHealthIQ it’s a special case again as in its particular brand of e-health, this investment should get them a long way to integrate themselves in health care and the impact they seek. So Go Mindaugas and team and make us even more proud!”

For more information about dHealthIQ go to:

About Libertatis Ergo Holding (LEH)

Libertatis Ergo Holding (LEH) invests in science based startup companies associated with the activities of Leiden University and supports entrepreneurs who develop high impact technology.

About unlock_

unlock_, the Life Science Incubator in Leiden, covers all phases of starting a business. unlock_ offers tailored entrepreneurship programmes dedicated to Life Science and Health startups and scaleups. Located on the Leiden Bio Science Park, unlock_ provides the structure, the program, the network and the instruments needed to turn an idea into a solution.


Bringing you local research and innovation

Science meets society at the Naturalis LiveScience gallery with unlock_LiveScience. Unlock_LiveScience is a meeting place where you can connect with, contribute ideas to and learn all about the latest developments on biodiversity and research happening at the Leiden Bio Science Park (LBSP).

About unlock_LiveScience

Through the collaboration of Life Science Incubator unlock_ and Naturalis, unlock_LiveScience brings together Naturalis and the companies at the LBSP with the visitors of Naturalis. In the beautiful, open-access, LiveScience gallery, everyone can contribute to and share knowledge on the science happening right here in Leiden.

Startups and companies, alongside the researchers from Naturalis, will have the opportunity to collaborate with each other and present their work through a variety of activities. These activities will strengthen the collaboration of companies in the park.

This can include:

  • An open and interactive spotlight where you share the latest knowledge, show your innovative research, and have a Q&A with the audience.
  • A demonstration of your work or equipment where the audience can really experience your research.
  • Putting your research or equipment on display in one of the LiveScience display cases to show the breakthroughs in research and innovation happening right here on the LBSP.
  • Special After Dark sessions tailored around a specific topic and audience based on your input.
Photos by Hielco Kuipers

Special nanoparticles for cancer therapy! Will you help?

Developing a better treatment for patients with head and neck cancer, that is what Binanox, The 2022 iGEM Leiden team, want to achieve. They hope to raise at least 10,000 euros for this cause. Support their crowdfunding campaign today. Support Binanox with your contribution.

In the Netherlands, more than 3000 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancer each year. Yet, current treatments are often invasive, and there are stages where chances of survival are not great. A promising new treatment is so-called photothermal therapy in which metal nanoparticles kill the tumour cells.
During this treatment, a doctor injects the nanoparticles directly into the tumour. The tumour is afterwards exposed to a laser that emits Near Infrared (NIR) light. The nanoparticles convert this light into heat, which then kills the tumour cells.

Replacing chemical nanoparticles with biological ones

Existing nanoparticles are chemically produced and not optimal for transferring heat to the tumour. The iGEM team is looking for ways to produce these nanoparticles biologically by using proteins. These proteins ensure that the nanoparticles have the perfect properties for photothermal therapy. In the video, the iGEM students explain more about this and their team.


To develop this treatment, the team needs help. That is why iGEM Leiden is organising a crowdfunding to raise money. Want to help them out? Support Binanox with your contribution.

Want to learn more?

Come to the evening lecture (in Dutch) on Thursday 29 September, organised by alumni association het Natuurwetenschappelijk Gezelschap Leiden. In this lecture the iGEM team will tell you all about their project and there will be room for questions. The lecture can also be watched via live stream.

Evening lecture: Nanodeeltjes produceren voor kankertherapie met Escherichia coli


iGEM Leiden

International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) is a competition in which student teams from all over the world use synthetic biology to solve a societal problem. Every year, more than 350 teams participate worldwide. In 2020, the then Leiden team won the main prize with their project ‘Rapidemic’.

Iprotics Wins the Venture Challenge Spring 2022!

The winner of the Venture Challenge was announced today at the Dutch Biotech Event. The proud winner of the 2022 spring edition is Iprotics! The innovative startup Iprotics has developed specific proteasome inhibitors that potentially treat multiple myeloma (MM) without the side-effects known from traditional proteasome inhibitors.

According to the jury, composed of Carine van den Brink, Geert-Jan Mulder, Olga Liska, Daniela Begolo and Jan-Frens van Giessel, Iprotics is addressing a real need as experienced by patients suffering from multiple myeloma (MM). They have a clear value proposition on which they can expand in the future. Iprotics has developed a superior proteasome inhibitor compared to existing therapies. It is their aim to develop these leads to become the first-in-line treatment for MM patients. The unique compounds, for which IP protection is sought for and to which iProtics will obtain an exclusive license, inhibit with exquisite selectivity immunoproteasomes while leaving constitutive proteasomes intact. MM cells uniquely rely on immunoproteasomes for protein turnover and survival, whereas healthy tissue express constitutive proteasomes mostly. They have proof of concept in cell lines and primary patient tumour cells showing that their compounds efficiently and at low concentrations kill MM cells, but not healthy cells. Iprotics leads are expected to give less side effects and a considerably enlarged therapeutic window, and potentially increase patient lifespan and quality of life.

‘We had a great idea but we did not know where to go with it. However, thanks to the Venture Challenge, we are now poised to start a company to develop our compounds and take them to the clinic’
– Elmer Maurits, founder of Iprotics

©2022 Photo: Nils van Houts

The NWO Venture Challenge helps starting entrepreneurs in the life sciences to bring their service or product to the market. In a programme of approximately ten weeks, starters receive support in setting up a company and develop their idea into a solid business case. Examples from the past show that the time-to-market can be shortened through the Venture Challenge. The Venture Challenge has two rounds per year (spring and fall edition). Winners receive €25.000 prize money to invest in their growth.

Introducing unlock_LiveScience

Naturalis Biodiversity Center and unlock_ have joined forces to bring you unlock_LiveScience.

unlock_LiveScience stimulates the cooperation between companies at the Leiden Bio Science Park and Naturalis to create a place to present cutting-edge research to a broader audience. It will be the meeting place where local, regional and national people (individually and in groups) are welcome to join and think along with our LBSP start-ups and companies.

Join us on the 16th of September from 16:30-19:15 for an introduction to unlock_LiveScience. See the flyer here.

  • 16:30-16:45: Welcome at Naturalis Biodiversity Center
  • 16:45-17:30: Tour of the Collection Tower
  • 17:30-18:15: Introduction to unlock_LiveScience
  • 18:15-19:15: Drinks in the restaurant

Program coordinator Anna Heerdink invites you. Watch the video!


The 10 best tips for your Life Sciences and Health venture

Are you a student, an entrepreneur or a researcher who wants to launch your own product or company? Then read these ten essential tips to be as prepared as possible for entrepreneurship!
  1. Apply for a patent as soon as possible. There is nothing more disheartening than losing an idea or invention to another larger company or someone who steals it before your eyes. So always apply. Even if you think the idea may not have large potential. You could be wrong!
  2. Invest in the right number of employees with good qualities. It is important, especially in biotech, to have reliable and skilled employees on the work floor. Quality over quantity.
  3. Do not let entrepreneurship overshadow your private life. Life consists of much more than business and work. Try to find the right balance for yourself with a relaxing hobby or sport.
  4. Structure your business in a growth plan: write down concrete objectives. Think about when and how you want to achieve them. Make them realistic and consider how much time you really need for them. The clearer you make it for yourself, the easier it will be to measure whether you are on track.
  5. Invest in good cooperation with colleagues. It sounds logical, but it is personal ties that make the difference in the long run. Support people where necessary and show genuine interest. Nowadays, loyal employees are a luxury to be cherished.
  6. Make sure you have an extensive network with enough entrepreneurs with experience. Ask them for advice. They can help you to not make the same mistakes they suffered in their careers.
  7. Follow your intuition. Ask yourself how it feels rather than what it costs. Do not go for money and profit in the first place, but for the pleasure and with that, the quality in your work.
  8. Be patient. After all, research takes years. The better your idea, the more time you will probably need to eventually participate in the market.
  9. Always try to stand out from your competitors with a clear communication strategy. For example, always be accessible and respond to stakeholders as quickly as possible. Also when it comes to difficult subjects.
  10. Keep your organisation flat. Of course it is important to have some form of hierarchy in your organisation, but try to limit it. Flatter means more accessible, which makes it easier for everyone to communicate with each other and which results in a better functioning company.

If you have no idea where to start in setting up your LSH company and how to arrange everything that comes with it, it is advisable to turn to a professional mentor. In the Netherlands, for the Life Sciences and Health sector, this is unlock_. They have the network and the expertise to turn your idea into a successful business!

Written by Steven van Polanen

Applications now open for the unlock_ x PLNT Venture Academy

Within a period of 4 months, start-ups participating in the Venture Academy work on validating their business case, building a healthy team and raising funding. During the program, they are supported by experienced trainers, mentors and coaches. The program is an initiative of PLNT Leiden and the Life Science Incubator unlock_, both incubators for start-ups. Start-ups can register for the program until July 29 at the latest.

Everything a start-up needs to get off to a flying start is covered in the Venture Academy. In addition, the companies receive coaching and mentoring by sector specialists who support them throughout the program. After completing the fully subsidized program, the young companies are ready to raise their first round of funding.

Specialised Track

Companies that focus on the field of Life Sciences and Health participate in the ‘Special Track’. Here, unlock_, a partner of PLNT, mentors the start-ups. unlock_ also serves as an incubator for start-ups, but is specialized in the Life Sciences and Health sector. This sector requires more in-depth knowledge about technical and legal matters such as patent applications.


Start-up companies can register for an intake interview directly through this link. After this introductory interview, there is an opportunity to apply for a spot in the Venture Academy. The deadline for registration is Friday, July 29, 2022. The kick-off of the program will take place on Friday, September 9. For more information, the full brochure is available.

Venture Academy 2022

Why Leiden and Science are Inseparable

Leiden is the city of science. Hidden behind the central station is a terrain of 110 hectare with over 60 science-based organisations established. This terrain, which is called the Leiden Bio Science Park (LBSP), is the biggest life-science cluster in The Netherlands. It isn’t a surprise that Leiden is proclaimed the City of Science 2022!

This year, the entire city of Leiden is themed in science. The European City of Science is also a cooperation project between Leiden University, the LUMC, University of Applied Sciences Leiden and the municipality of Leiden. For 365 days, the city of keys offers a program filled with exhibitions, events and activities for all ages. The goal of this 10th edition is to bring science closer to the community and environment. Therein also lies the charm of this event. The program is built for the curious minds, whether you’re an international scientist, inquisitive kid or a hardworking student, everybody is welcome and can indulge in this theme.

Leiden University is an important link in the connection between Leiden and science. The University was founded in 1575 during the Eighty Years’ War and has been one of the leading institutes of science and research ever since. This makes Leiden proud of its scientific history,, which shows in the ‘City of Discoveries’. Through 27 information points divided over the city, everybody is able to learn about the scientific history of Leiden in a modern way. The city of keys is proud to present these educational walking routes filled with fun facts and information. For example, did you know that medical applications like heart films and MRI-scanners were developed in Leiden? And that the origin of the universe was first revealed in Leiden?

Internationally, Leiden has quite a reputation for its high-quality scientific research. Besides this, the LBSP contains some of the big scientific names like Janssen Vaccines and HALIX (the manufacturer of the AstraZeneca vaccine). The LBSP is loaded with starting entrepreneurs, researchers and students which are working intensively on medical innovations for the future. Think of vaccines, ground breaking hospital equipment and even machines that can measure and produce medication to the milligram. The latter is an interesting initiative. The company, Doser, has a ground-breaking invention in the medical industry through 3D printed medicine. With the help from unlock_ they have grown significantly within a year and have secured multiple funding.

This example shows that Leiden has been the epicentre of science and health for decades now. With inventions of the past and innovations for the future, Leiden stays frontrunner in The Netherlands for life sciences and health. It is worth the effort to take a look at Naturalis, Corpus or one of the educational walking routes through the city centre. Leiden is the capital of science, and that deserves to be celebrated!

Written by Collin Bikkers

What PR can do for start-ups

As a starting entrepreneur, the media landscape can be a jungle where you must find a path to success without a  tour guide. Many researchers and scientists have beautiful innovations but are missing the tools and knowledge to put their businesses in the spotlight. In this article, you will read more about the power of PR for start-ups, tips for using communication correctly and how to grow from idea to full-fledged player.

PR is an undervalued expertise which can be very useful for a lot of companies, provided it is used in the right way. As a start-up, you don’t have much to lose yet in terms of reputation or image damage . Nevertheless, it is definitely worth the effort to build on a positive brand image. As a company in the scientific sector, you already have an advantage. Lots of scientific news has a positive side, think: innovations, new studies and results or prototypes of new ground breaking instruments. These kind of stories are popular amongst press and journalists because everyone wants to hear good news.

The advantage of having your own media planning is that you have the control and the power to decide where and when something appears in the news about your company. Of course, that isn’t the full story. PR requires creating content, developing strategies and building a network with people. To help you with these subjects, here are some tips:

  1. Determine your target audience

The first step in the process is to determine who you are targeting with your communications. Do you want more brand awareness? Are you looking for interns? Do you want to generate attention for your product, service or event? These kind of questions will help you to get a clear view of what you want to communicate, and more importantly, to whom.

  1. Focus your communications

Lots of people think that a press release to a large news or press bureau is enough to get the job done. They couldn’t be more wrong. Some organisations have to acknowledge that their story does not have enough news value for the general public . Try to reach out to a local newspaper, magazine or radio station. These types of media are generally keen to write about neighbourhood success stories. In the end, they are looking for content too. In many cases, this strategy is a lot more effective. Shoot with aim!

  1. Check out your content options

A company is almost never boring. There always is some kind of success story, victory, elevating or turbulent period or interesting group of people within an organization. Creating content may be easier than it appears. For example, interviewing a few employees or colleagues could be a great first step. Make sure you ask about the reason why they chose to work for your business. Even though it may not result in a newsworthy story, it could be a great tool for brainstorming and having insight in the strengths of your company. Also, writing a blog isn’t a crazy idea. When you think about it, you will definitely come up with some interesting subjects or topics with added value for the industry you’re working in. These things can be great content for your social media.

  1. Determine when to use media

To have news or content is a one thing, but timing it in the media for the most effective conversion is another. Good timing will help your message to stand out from the rest. For example, think of an announcement for an event which you want to generate attention for. Usually a week before the event is the best moment to release your message to the media. There are some useful tools that can help you find a suitable moment, like the notable dates calendar. This shows all the annual events from Father’s Day to Christmas and Leiden science 2022 to unlock_LiveScience at Naturalis. By communicating in a targeted way and choosing the right moment, you will make the difference between ten stories in different news providers and a publication somewhere in the back of a weekly magazine.

Using these tips, the basics of your strategy can be secured. Lots of the components of PR aren’t rocket science but do require some attention. Building a reputation goes step-by-step and, with the establishment of the right network, can be vital for (starting) entrepreneurs. Content, timing and networking are the key factors and the guides that will lead you through this crazy media jungle.

Written by Collin Bikkers

The 4 latest brilliant inventions in biotech

Developments in health and science are always interesting. Especially because it can help you when you need it. Recently, four companies have actually turned their idea into an innovation: EXIT071, RespiQ, Doser and Imuno Therapeutics. This is the perfect opportunity to highlight the remarkable inventions of these start-ups!


Nowadays, there are of course various methods for diagnosing diseases, such as biopsies, punctures and blood sampling. The big disadvantage unfortunately is that they penetrate tissue and damage it. EXIT071 has created a way to diagnose the disease just as precisely, without penetrating the patient’s body (non-invasive). Through so-called exosomes, particles that every cell in our body secretes, it is now possible to see whether someone has a disease and to what extent it has progressed. These particles can be found in, for example, saliva and urine.


Another non-invasive health indicator has been devised by the company RespiQ. They have designed a device that can detect diseases from molecules in your breath. Certain diseases produce molecules or ‘biomarkers’ that subsequently enter the lungs through the bloodstream. The handheld breathalyser detects which biomarkers are present. Thanks to the breathalyser’s high sensitivity, it measures the slightest change in concentrations. This allows it to warn of emerging health problems even before symptoms exist. This means faster treatment. Another advantage is that people can use this themselves and in their own homes.


The next invention also takes an important step in the medical world. 3D printing of objects already existed of course, but Doser is taking it a few steps further. They are the brains behind 3D printed medicines. This allows everyone to receive personalised treatment, which means that fewer pills may be needed and people will experience fewer side effects. Moreover, the pills can be made in any shape and different colours and flavours. Very beneficial and especially convenient for the youngest patients.

Imuno Therapeutics

Last, but certainly not least, is the company Imuno Therapeutics. They focus on a more effective treatment of cancer with immunotherapy. This treatment method supports or activates the immune system to attack cancer cells. By even better visualization of what cancer cells look like on the cell surface, Imuno Therapeutics can develop medicines that recognise this surface and thus kill the cancer cells. In this way, they directly create and build a portfolio of targeted therapies. This can offer an improved life expectancy for patients with metastatic cancer.

To summarize; all these ingenious researchers are working on solving the most complex health problems of the modern world. Today’s technology offers the chance to create personalised treatment plans for an increasing number of diseases.

These four innovative ideas have developed into growing startups with the help of the year-long incubation programme of unlock_, based in Leiden. The programme covers all phases of entrepreneurship in the Life Sciences and Health sector and provides access to a vast network with many experienced entrepreneurs. The four startups will all settle in the Leiden Bio Science Park.

Written by Steven van Polanen